Friday, October 31, 2014

Day 38 (10/30) - Eirexe to Melide (22.9km)

Now that DST has ended, sunrise is at 8:30 or so. We had breakfast at the nearby bar and started walking at 8am. The walking conditions were nice for the morning and we enjoyed the countryside of Galicia. We stopped several times at small villages for snacks, soup, or cerveza con limon and arrived at our destination of Melide at 3:30pm. After getting settled in to Albergue O'Cruceiro, again in a room with two bunks and hoping to have the room for ourselvers, we headed off to enjoy the "pulpo" (octopus) for which this town is well-known. We had a small plate of octopus, an order of pimientes de padron and a bottle of local white wine. Pretty damn good for a "simple snack"! We relaxed a bit and went to a restaurant we had noticed along the path and that was mentioned online (Casa Alongos) - the did not serve large dishes, more like tapas or racciones, but we had several wonderful plates. The spinach and croquettes were freshly cooked, the roasted vegetables were served with aioli, and we had interesting zucchini packets - thinly sliced zucchini wrapped around a small block of cheese and then seared, and several glasses of an organic red wine (Mencia). The woman who owns the place was very congenial and also a wild mushroom fan so that made for a nice visit. All in all, a very different light dinner compared to typical pilgrim fare of meat and fries. We did indeed have the bunk room to ourselves so went to bed as happy campers!

Interesting sculptures in front of a bar.

Typical walking pathway in the morning.

Village scene and the camino pathway (above) and traditional granary of Galicia (below).

We stopped at interesting albergue/cafe for lunch - delicious soups (garbanzo and potatoes on the left and caldo gallego)

Stop for pulpo (octopus) in Melide and nice bottle of local white wine.

Location:Melide, Spain

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Day 37 (10/29) - Mercadoiro to Eirexe (22.3km)

We think there were only 5 or 6 pilgrims in our albergue and we were the only ones in our room of 3 bunk beds. The bar opened at 8am for breakfast so it was a leisurely morning. After 4km we passed by Portomarin where we stayed last year and continued another 8km before stopping for second breakfast, or was it first lunch? Then we continued on and had a bowl of soup. The countryside was nice and the pathway was quiet. We stopped in Eirexe, a small village, and are staying at a combination Pension/Albergue in a room that has two bunks and its own bath. We hope again that there will be nobody else in the room. Dinner was at the bar across the road from our albergue and another fairly typical "pilgrim menu". Nobody else had checked in so we had a "private room".

The 3' thick stone walls in the place we stayed last night.

Morning in Galicia, walking along stone-wall lined country lanes.

Portomarin, the small town where we stayed about this time last year.
The mileposts keep counting down! :)

Hamberguesas were for lunch. Not bad and the first we've sampled in Spain.

Mileposts keep counting down the distance to Santiago!

Our small pension / albergue in Eirexe. We ended up being the only pilgrims in a room with two bunks and bath.

Italian pilgrims - the dog (Zoe, a 9 month old "puppy") belongs to Danielle, at right. We enjoy our post walk relaxation with a few glasses of wine and fellow pilgrims.

Location:Melide, Spain

Day 36 (10/28) - San Mamed del Camino to Mercadoiro (21.3km)

Breakfast in albergue was simple, instant coffee and cookies or bread, but it was free. Headed off and Sarria was only 4km and we had second breakfast there. It was supposed to rain in the morning but amounted to only a few drops. Stopped again for a bocadillo and then later for soup and a cerveza con limon. The path was pleasant and often through tree lined paths or paved farm lanes along rolling hills of Galicia. At around 3:30 we arrived in Mercadoiro, nothing here but a bar and albergue but quite pleasant. We remember it from last year but only stopped for a drink then. Now, after our shower, rinsing clothes, etc. are enjoying a liter of red wine (~$4) working on our journals and hoping someone we know stops by so we don't need to drink the whole thing. Dinner was nice enough but more of a typical "pilgrims dinner".

Beautiful pathway in the morning.

100km from Santiago!

A beautiful day for walking.

We were the only pilgrims in our room - almost seemed like a private room!

The courtyard of our albergue's bar/restaurant. The stone walls of the bar are 3' thick and the old buildings were renovated in 2006 to create the Albergue.

Our room was in this restored building.

The camino pathway and the "street" in front of our Albergue. We so love these buildings made of local stone!

Location:Mercadoiro, Spain

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Day 35 (10/27) - Triacastela to San Mamed del Camino (via Samos) (22.6km)

Still a bit confused about how early to start after the end of DST. We did wait until it was fairly light because the first stretch was along a highway. Fortunately, most of that was outside of the "crash barrier" rather than on the shoulder. Then, we walked on a path though forest and along a small stream. Arrived at Samos around 10:30am and had a snack. The monastery at Samos is one of the largest and oldest in Europe and dates back to the 7th century, pre-dating the "discovery" of Saint James burial spot and thus the camino itself. The tour of the monastery was interesting and since the three of us who were there were not Spanish speakers, it was in english. Then, we had a rather long but pretty walk on a woodlands track or small road along a river and through farmlands. Finally, we reconnected to the camino route we followed last year, had a "cerveza con limon" and then continued for a short distance to San Mamed del Camino and Paloma Y Lena. This is a private albergue and we have a private room with one bunk bed and bath for 25 euros. The description says that this is "an oasis" and we certainly agree! Now sitting on the veranda with a pitcher of red wine and enjoying the evening. Dinner was vegetarian and the soup was the best we have had so far - lentil with mushrooms and very nicely spiced. That was followed by quiche, tortilla and salad with fruit and cake for dessert.

Stream and small village.

Beautiful fall colors of the vines on the house next to the pathway

Tree lined path through the forest and along the fields.

Views of the Benedictine abbey at Samos (above and below) - originally founded in the 7th century but buildings are more modern.

Typical path in the afternoon.

Ah yes, the sign we were looking for in later afternoon!

Our albergue for the night. Definitely one of the nicest we've stayed at.

Dinner in a beautiful room with 10 pilgrims.

Location:San Mamed del Camino, Spain

Monday, October 27, 2014

Day 34 (10/26) - O'Cebreiro to Triacastela (21.5km)

Daylight savings time ended last night so we got a bit more sleep and left a bit after sunrise because we wanted to enjoy the beautiful scenery as we left town. The pathway follows the ridge line for several kilometers and then gradually descended with ups and downs and finally after 12km or so descending fairly steeply. However, it was still a much more pleasant downhill than after cruz de ferro. Weather was clear but not hot so we really enjoyed the day. Also nice that there were plenty of places to stop for snacks or coffee. Lunch was at a place we stopped last year and we had really great version of Caldo de Gallego there. Finally reaching the village of Triacastelo and we found a simple, older alberuge (Berce do Camino) and have a twin room with shared bath for 8 euro each and the lady did our laundry for 7 euros. It even had free access to a computer with printer so we were able to print our Ryan Air boarding passes. Then, went up the street and had a pitcher of sangria, bowl of olives, and plate of pemientos de padrone (fried sweet green peppers) while we worked on our journals and back to the room for a rest. At dinner we sat with a familiar group of pilgrims. I had scrambled eggs with mushrooms and prawns for an "opener" and braised veal tongue with fries for my entree and ice cream for dessert.

Sunrise looking over yesterday"s trek.

Although today was largely downhill, we still had some steep bits. This looks back over typical scenery.

Wonderful bowl of peasant soup, Caldo de Gallego. Made with white beans, diced potato, collard greens, cabbage, carrots and probably a bit of pork bone for flavor.

Bucolic scene and typical Galician views.

The camino passes right down the main street of Triacastela and the tables of the restaurant where we had sangria and snacks and later dinner. It's nice to eat outside even in late October! For dinner, we ate inside.

Hungry pilgrims!

Scrambled eggs, mushrooms and shrimp.

Braised veal tongue.

Location:Triacastela, Spain

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Day 33 (10/25) - Trabadelo to O'Cebreiro (19.4km)

Today was the second hardest climb of our whole journey, although not the longest or highest elevation. HOWEVER, last year we did the same route and in steady rain for the entire day whereas today was sunny and fairly cool. We really enjoyed the beautiful day and wonderful scenery. We followed a narrow valley along a quit road or hillside trail for most of the day, passing through several small villages that we did not appreciate (or much notice) last year due to the steady rain. Chestnut trees lined much of the way and people were gathering chestnuts. The last 6 miles was very steep and the final 3 or 4 miles was exposed to the sun so we were definitely tired upon arrival. Staying in the provincial albergue in pretty spartan furnishings and are in a large room with perhaps 24 bunks and there are three rooms. We had cider and worked on our journals, blogs, etc. then a glass of wine with other pilgrims and attended the pilgrims mass. Parts of the church in O'Cebriero date to the ninth century so is one of the oldest on the camino. The parish priest beginning from the mid-1900's is buried in the chapel (he died in 1989) and is quite important for the resurgence of the camino - it was his idea to paint the yellow arrows to mark the way. Dinner was with 5 other pilgrims and a nice "menu" and enjoyed the first bowl of Caldo Gallego (typical Galician soup) for this year. Sleeping in the full dormitory was not so great but we managed.

Walking along a quiet road in the valley floor with the freeway high overhead.

Nice gardens with LOTS of collarard greens.

Walking through quiet villages.

Rocky path in the forest

Higher elevation path with nice views.

We passed into Galicia.

Parts of this church date to ninth century. Romanesque image below.

Simple interior of this old church is quite a contrast to the big cathedrals.

Dinner with fellow pilgrims.

Location:O'Cebriero, Spain

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Day 32 (10/24) - Cacabelos to Trabadelo (19.1km)

Left town at 8am and it was still pretty dark and we watched the sunrise while walking through vineyards where the vines were turning dark red - very beautiful. The first 8km was through rolling hills covered by vineyards and through one or two small villages. Then we entered Villafranca del Bierzo around 10am. We visited a church that had a nice exhibit related to pilgrims and the camino. More specifically, the exhibit emphasized that this is the 800th anniversary of the pilgrimage to Santiago made by Saint Francis of Assisi. We had a nice early lunch with a few of our favorite dishes and two glasses each of red wine - that made our afternoon distance of 10km seem a bit longer! Last year we walked the "high route", with a big climb and then following the ridge-line through chestnut groves. This year we followed the two lane road in the valley floor so it was a bit easier. Although we were mostly along the road, it was also along a small river and the trees were displaying their fall colors. We arrived Trabadelo and stayed in the Albergue Crispeta, paying 8 euros and have a shared room with 4 twin beds and its own bath. A pretty good deal since the room full of bunk-beds would have been 6 euros each. Turns out we were lucky and there was nobody else in our room! We enjoyed a drink and then later back for dinner in the nearby "Gastropub" that we ate in last year. The "Maybins" (Carol Anne and sister Almeda) were staying there and we had a very nice dinner with them. The owner is Dutch and does everything (cooking, bar-tending, etc.). Dinner started with a wonderful peanut soup and then I had fish stew with rice while Cindy had Moussaka and we had homemade liqueurs for dessert.

Vineyards at sunrise, looking back towards Cacabelos.

This may be the last day we travel through a large wine producing region.

In Villafranca del Bierzo, posing with yet another statue of Saint James as a pilgrim.

Our albergue (Crispeta) in the quiet village of Trabadelo ("main street" scene below).

Location:Trabadelo, Spain